Walks with Columbo

May can be a very stressful time for educators. Staff Evaluations, School Improvement Plans, State and District Testing are all happening at the same time as we are trying to fit in the remainder of the curriculum and other projects (Time Capsules, Renovations, etc). With all the things we need to squeeze in at the end of the school year, there is one thing that is essential to include….self care!

There are many ways we can practice self care. From eating right and exercising to simply remembering to breathe, we need to practice being good to ourselves. The old saying is true, “If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of others.” Educators are so good at many things, but we are often lacking when it comes to giving ourselves what we need. Just like all of you, I have my fair share of stress and I have found a way to help alleviate some of my own stress…walks with Columbo.

For those of you old enough to remember, Columbo was the lovable, bumbling detective played by Peter Falk. It was also the perfect name for our lumbering and sometimes drooling Saint Bernard. When I get home from school, I often have schedules and lists of things undone swirling through my head. I learned long ago that those things need to be let go of in order to have a happy home life. One of the ways that I have been able to do that is by my nightly walks with Columbo. Going around the neighborhood with him is very therapeutic. It clears my head, lifts my spirits, and gets my body moving. I can name most of the dogs in the neighborhood that we see on our walks, but I’d be lucky to name three of my neighbors. Our nightly walks are a time for me to take off the principal hat and just be in the moment. I take my cues from Columbo who is jumping for excitement and sniffing each fence and tree as if we have never seen them before. He is just thrilled to be walking and spending time with me. He teaches me the art of finding joy and excitement in small moments.

A mentor once told me, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. And remember,  it’s all small stuff!” My walks with Columbo remind me of that and give me the energy and peace to start fresh each day. How do you deal with stress in your life? If you ask nicely and are willing to brave a walk with a 140 pound hound, then I’d be glad to offer you the joy of Walks with Columbo!

 

Columbo at 14 pounds and 140 pounds! 

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“The measure of success is happiness and peace of mind.” – Bobby Davro

“Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do IF you stay in the present moment.” – Deepak Chopra

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” – Leo Buscaglia

 

This video is guaranteed to make you smile! 

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  • Saturday, May 19: Staff Outing/Karaoke! 9:15 PM – ???
  • Sunday, May 20: St. Baldrick’s Head Shaving at The Claddaugh 4:00 PM

 

  • Monday, May 21: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, iReady Window 3 Opens (Computer lab is still closed in mornings for last week of M-STEP, but chromebooks can be used for iReady)
  • Tuesday, May 22: Building walk through by Harry Lau (prepping for summer renovations) 8:00 AM
  • Thursday, May 24: Staff Meeting Time dedicated to finalizing class groupings, 3rd Grade to Lansing
  • Friday, May 25: Volunteer Breakfast in LMC 8:15 AM, Staff & Students dismissed at 12:10 PM (M-STEP window closes)

 

  • Monday, May 28: No School for Memorial Day
  • Tuesday, May 29: Fire Drill 3:15 PM
  • Wednesday, May 30: Kindergarten Round Up, Parent Meeting (Williams) 2:35 PM
  • Thursday, May 31: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Buchanan SHS Graduates Clap Out 11:15 AM
  • Friday, June 1: Garden Dedication/Time Capsule Ceremony 2:00-2:30 PM

 

  • Sunday, June 3: Family Tiger’s Game 1:00 PM
  • Monday, June 4: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, June 5: Summer Library Program Presentation in gym K-2 1:30/ 3&4 2:00, Kona Ice Truck here for staff! 4:20-4:40 PM
  • Thursday, June 7: Building PD 7:50-8:50 AM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, June 8: Field Day! (iReady Window Closes)

 

  • Monday, June 11: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, 4th Grade Celebration in the PM
  • Tuesday, June 12: Kindergarten Concert/Celebration 1:15-2:30 PM
  • Wednesday, June 13: First Grade Water Fun 1:15-2:30 PM
  • Thursday, June 14: All School Assembly 10:00-11:00 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out 11:30 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10
  • Monday, June 16: Optional Work Day for Teachers, End of Year Gathering in evening!

Finishing Strong!

Last week, along with millions of others, I watched the Kentucky Derby. Now, I’m not big into horse racing, but I do try to watch the Kentucky Derby every year. It’s fun to hear all the intriguing names of the horses and see the excitement and fanfare at Churchill Downs. This year the track was wet and muddy and it amazes me that they can still run so fast through rough conditions. When they come out of the starting gates it’s a blur of color as they all burst onto the track. Soon, a few make their way to the front as they turn the corner and head down the track. First one taking the lead and then another. It’s in the final stretch of the race that all the excitement happens. The fans are cheering, the announcers are shouting, and one horse finally breaks ahead of the pack, sometimes by a nose and sometimes by length or more, to become the winner. It’s the last burst of speed and endurance just at the right time that can make a champion!

Education can be very similar to the Kentucky Derby. There is a lot of fanfare in the beginning of the year as we kick off with open houses and back to school events. We get to know the names and personalities of all our students. Sometimes we have a clear track ahead of us and some years the track is muddy and slippery, but we race down it all the same. It’s easy to have that excitement at the beginning of the year, but as the year goes on it can be exhausting. The key is to save up enough energy and spirit for that final push at the end! Our students need that encouragement as the year comes to a close and so do our teachers. I think one of the reasons that Teacher Appreciation is in May is to help give teachers that final push and encouragement that says, “You can do this! Finish strong!“.

Our students will take their lead from us if we continue to be enthusiastic until that final bell. When the halls are empty and the students are gone, then we can enjoy some rest, knowing that our race was well run. Champions finish strong at the race track and also in the classroom. Keep up your excellent work and your enthusiasm and know that you are making a difference right up to that final bell!

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JUSTIFY wins the 2018 Kentucky Derby! 

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Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.” – Robin Sharma

Where you start is not as important as where you finish. – Zig Ziglar

That’s one thing you learn in sports. You don’t give up; you fight to the finish. – Louis Zamperini

 It’s funny because it’s true! 

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  • Monday, May 14: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, May 15: MET/IEP Benson 8:015 AM, All Administrator Meeting 3:00-4:30
  • Wednesday, May 16: School Improvement Team 8:15 in Conference Room
  • Thursday, May 17: Staff Meeting 8:05 (Led by Jen Cory), 4th Grade to Riley
  • Friday, May 18: Student Placement Meetings (Rotating Subs), F&P Data due in Illuminate
  • Saturday, May 19: Buchanan Staff Night Out at Karaoke!!9:00 PM – ??
  • Sunday, May 20: St. Baldrick’s Event at The Claddagh  (Jon getting head shaved)
  • Monday, May 21: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM (iReady Window 3 Opens)
  • Thursday, May 24: 3rd Grade to Lansing
  • Friday, May 25: Students & Staff dismissed at 12:10 PM (M-STEP Window Closes)
  • Monday, May 28: No School for Memorial Day
  • Wednesday, May 30: Kindergarten Round Up
  • Thursday, May 31: Buchanan SHS Seniors Clap Out 11:15 AM
  • Friday, June 1: Garden Dedication/Time Capsule Ceremony 2:00 PM
  • Sunday, June 3: Family Tiger’s Game
  • Thursday, June 7: Building PD 7:50-8:50 AM, Final PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, June 8: Field Day!
  • Monday, June 11: 4th Grade Celebration in the afternoon
  • Tuesday, June 12: Kindergarten Celebration/Outdoor Concert 1:30 PM
  • Thursday, June 14: All School Assembly 10:00-11:00 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10 PM
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out 11:30 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10 PM

Looking Back at the Future

Several years ago, I was able to check off an item from my bucket list. I recorded a CD of songs that I wrote, played, and sang. While it sounds like a one man show, it wasn’t. It was possible because of my good friend who had a recording studio, played all the other instruments, and also did all the mixing. (It’s good to have talented friends:) The name of the CD was Looking Back at the Future and was very therapeutic to me as I was going through some challenging times in my life.  Music was my outlet and helped keep me grounded. Each song had a story and captured a moment in time. The process took about a year and like all worthwhile goals, was a lot of work!

For me, recording my own songs was something I needed to do turn a dream into reality. I’m reminded of this time in my life, because I have several friends who are currently turning their own dreams into reality. Allyson Apsey,  Sean Gaillard and Debbie McFalone each have books coming out soon and they have inspired me and reminded me of dreams I have accomplished and dreams I still want to achieve. One is to follow in their footsteps and someday write an educational book myself. My goal is not to say, “Look what I’ve done“, but rather to accomplish a goal and say, “See, you can do it too!“. That’s what I take away from my friends’ success in publishing,  “I’ve told my story, now go tell yours!“.

As educators, we not only have an obligation to help our students reach their goals, but to live by example and reach ours as well. What better lesson can we teach our students than by modeling the desire and effort to make our dreams come true. Luckily for me, my ultimate goal is to do exactly what I get to do every day. Work with teachers and make a positive difference in the lives of students! One of my mentors, Paul Liabenow  often uses the term, “Living the dream“. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do just that. What dreams do you have and are you working on making them a reality?

 

 

Click to Listen to Looking Back at the Future

 

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  • Monday, May 7: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, May 8: Achievement Team (Gruenewald) 8:15 AM, Fire Drill 1:30 PM, Administrative Data Meeting at Central Office 3:00 PM
  • Wednesday, May 9: School Improvement Committee 8:15 AM (in conference room), Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, May 10: Collaborative Learning Time 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, May 11: Sandi Benson visiting Classrooms for Video Recordings, Jon to Lansing for MEMSPA Board Meeting, PTA Spring Fling 6:00-8:00 PM

 

  • Monday, May 14: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, May 15: MET/IEP (Benson) 8:15 AM, All Administrators Meeting 3:00 PM
  • Thursday, May 17: Staff Meeting8:05 AM, 4th Grade to Riley Upper Elementary
  • Friday, May 18: Rotating Subs for K-3 Student Placement Meetings, F&P Data due in Illuminate
  • Sunday, May 20: Jon getting head shaved for the St. Baldrick’s fight against childhood cancer @ The Claddagh (Just so people aren’t surprised on Monday;)
  • Monday, May 21: iReady Window 3 Opens for K-4
  • Friday, May 25: Volunteer Breakfast 8:15, Staff & Students dismissed at 12:10 PM
  • Monday, May 28: No School for Memorial Day
  • Wednesday, May 30: Kindergarten Round Up
  • Thursday, May 31: Buchanan Seniors from SHS Clap Out 11:15 AM
  • Friday, June 1: Garden Dedication/Time Capsule Ceremony 2:00 PM

 

  • Sunday, June 3: Family Detroit Tigers Game 1:00 PM
  • Thursday, June 7: Final PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, June 8: Field Day
  • Monday, June 11: 4th Grade Celebration in the PM (Cirque Amongus)
  • Tuesday, June 12: Kindergarten Celebration/Concert 1:30 PM
  • Thursday, June 14: All School Assembly10:00-11:00 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out11:30 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10 PM

Two Salespeople

Once upon a time, there was a shoe company that was looking at expanding their market. In an effort to collect information on potential sites, the manager sent two salespeople to a distant country to explore. After a week, a message was sent from the first salesperson back to the manager. The message read, “It’s hopeless! There is no chance for expansion. The people here don’t even wear shoes!“. Shortly after that, the manager received a message from the second salesperson. The message read, “It’s wonderful! There is a huge opportunity for expansion. The people here don’t even wear shoes…yet!

This is an old story and it was shared with me by Debbie McFalone. The tale may not be new, but the message is as relevant today as when it was first told. It’s often not the situation we find ourselves in that determines our future, but rather how we choose to respond to our situation. The second salesperson demonstrated not only a positive attitude, but more importantly a Growth Mindset! I know if I were the manager, who I would be sending to future sites.

As educators, we face challenging situations each day. We also have a choice every day as to how we respond to those challenges. When I look at the world of education today it’s filled with budget shortfalls, near-sighted political agendas, unstable family structures, and increasing poverty rates across the nation. But it’s also filled with teachers that care, technology that can give the quietest students a voice, parent volunteers, and student and community partnerships to serve the underprivileged. It’s the best of times and the worst of times in education. I guess it’s all at how you look at it. I think you know how I choose to view things…and that’s what it all comes down to. A choice.  Do you see a hopeless situation or a wonderful opportunity?

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“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle

“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.” – Kobe Bryant

“The only place opportunity cannot be found is in a closed-minded person.” – Bo Bennett

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  • Monday, April 30: Student of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM, M-STEP Testing Begins, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Tuesday, May 1: MET/IEP K.P. (Kurtjian) 8:15 AM, IEP for DT (Pisko) 2:35 PM
  • Wednesday, May 2: Jon to District School Improvement 5:30-7:30 PM
  • Thursday, May 3: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM (Led by Jen Medellin), Jon to ABC Negotiations 1:30 PM
  • Monday, May 7: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, May 8: Achievement Team A.M. (Gruenwald) 8:15 AM, Fire Drill 1:30 PM
  • Wednesday, May 9: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM, PTA Board Meeting 2:30 PM in Conference Room
  • Thursday, May 10: Collaborative Learning Time 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, May 11: Jon to Lansing for MEMSPA Board of Directors, PTA Spring Fling 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Friday, May 18: Grade Level Planning Meetings (Rotating Subs), F&P Data due in Illuminate
  • Monday, May 21: iReady Window 3 Opens 
  • Friday, May 25: Staff & Students dismissed at 12:10 PM
  • Monday, May 28: No School for Memorial Day
  • Thursday, May 31: SHS Seniors Graduation Clap Out 11:20 AM
  • Friday, June 1: Garden Dedication / Time Capsule Ceremony 2:00 PM
  • Sunday, June 3: Family Tiger’s Game 1:00 PM
  • Thursday, June 7: Building Based PD 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, June 8: Field Day
  • Monday, June 11: Fourth Grade Celebration in PM
  • Tuesday, June 12: Kindergarten Celebration/Concert 1:30 PM
  • Thursday, June 14: All-School Assembly 10:00-11:00 AM
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out 11:30 AM

#1000

Something special happened this week in the world of comics. Action Comics became the longest running comic and the first series to ever reach the coveted issue #1000. In 1938, Action Comics introduced the world to a new hero called Superman and the comic series has run continuously for the past 80 years. When Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the iconic character, the country was still in the grip of the great depression and the world was on the brink of the second world war. He became a symbol of hope that captured the imagination of the public for generations.

One of the reasons that Superman has been able to endure for 80 years is the fact that he has adapted to stay relevant with each new generation. The character may have been born in the comics, but he soon became a staple on radio broadcasts, where he came into the home of millions of Americans. When families starting watching television, George Reeves, flew into homes each week on the small screen as the Man of Steel. Later, the hero made his debut on the big screen with Christopher Reeve. He continues to be portrayed in every medium of entertainment imaginable. Through it all, Superman has become one of the most recognizable characters in the world.

In addition to staying relevant with media and entertainment venues, the character has stayed relevant with society. He started out as social reformer who toppled slum lords and greedy corporations. As the nation reached into space, Superman’s cast of foes became more cosmic in nature. In the current times of political, social, and economic unrest, Superman continues to be just as relevant as ever by representing core values and a symbol of hope.

Now what does any of this have to do with education? Like the character of Superman, educators spend their energy helping others, fighting injustice, and empowering others to reach their dreams. We have also stayed relevant by adapting to the needs of our students and our society by continuously reinventing ourselves and our techniques. While we continually adapt, transform, and reinvent, we also hold firm to our core mission and truth that ALL students can learn and that we will do whatever it takes to reach ALL students. Superman has stood the test of time and continues to inspire young people (and young at heart). Educators have done the same in the real world and to borrow an old phrase, “Real heroes don’t wear capes”. Thanks for being a hero to your students every day!

 

1938                   2018

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“If I had to pick a superhero to be, I would pick Superman. He’s everything that I’m not.” – Stephen Hawking

“A lot of people ask me when I do a stunt, ‘Jackie, are you scared?’ Of course I’m scared. I’m not Superman.”– Jackie Chan

“My version of Superman is essentially of a guy who has spent his whole life alone.” – Henry Cavill

 

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  • Monday, April 23: Celebrate Monday Assembly with Special Guest 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, April 24: MET/IEP for N.S. (Benson) 8:15 AM, REED for C.R. (Benson) 2:35 PM, YMAD Ceremony at FHS 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Wednesday, April 25: Principals Meeting for 5D at Central Office 8:00-10:00 AM, Administrative Professionals Day!!
  • Thursday, April 26: NO STAFF MEETING, Art Fair (K-4), Music Concert (1st&2nd), Science Fair Displays (Participating Students) 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Monday, April 30: Student of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM, M-STEP Window Opens for grades 3&4, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM

 

  • Thursday, May 3: Staff Meeting(led by Jen Medellin)
  • Friday, May 11: Jon in Lansing during day for MEMSPA Board of Directors, PTA Spring Fling 6:00-8:00 PM (I will be back for the event)
  • Friday, May 18: Rotating Subs for Grade Level Grouping Meetings, F&P Data due in Illuminate(K-4)
  • Monday, May 21: iReadyWindow 3 Opens
  • Wednesday, May 30: Kindergarten Round Up

 

  • Friday, June 1: Garden/Time Capsule Dedication (2:00 PM?)
  • Sunday, June 3: Family Detroit Tigers Game 1:00 PM Sign Up Genius
  • Friday, June 8: Field Day
  • Monday, June 11: 4th Grade Celebration 1:30-3:30 PM (Cirque Amongus)
  • Tuesday, June 12: Kindergarten Celebration/Music Concert 1:30 PM
  • Thursday, June 14: All School Assembly 10:00-11:00 AM
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out 11:30 AM

Renew, Recharge, Rejuvenate

Every educator knows that creating relationships with students, colleagues, and parents is time well spent during the first month of school. Those relationships become the foundation for everything we do at school and can set the tone for the entire year. But it is vital that we continue to maintain and tend to those relationships throughout the year. Spring can be a stressful time for teachers as it is filled with assessments, evaluations, and trying to fit everything in before the end of the year. One way to help alleviate that stress is to focus on the three R’s of the relationships we have developed.

The first R is for Renew: After spring break, many of our students fall out of their routines as school. Help renew your relationships by reminding them of the expectations and that we care enough about them to hold them accountable. Renewing a relationship can be as simple as “catching up” with students to find out what is happening in their lives. A renewed relationship is a more productive one.

The second R is for Recharge: Relationships require energy. Help recharge your relationships by doing something fun! Perhaps you need to connect with your colleagues for a night out and talk about things other than school. This job is too hard to do on your own. We need support and recharging relationships with colleagues may be just the thing to get you through the tough times.

The third R is for Rejuvenate: This is the time of the year when parents may become lax on reading updates or checking on student homework. Help rejuvenate parent involvement by inviting them into the classroom, asking them to participate with a project, or simply jazz up your communication with some pictures or videos of students. Active parents are great partners to have on your team!

We all do a great job of working on relationships in the fall. Make sure you tend to those relationships in the spring as well by renewing, recharging, and rejuvenating them. If your are successful, those relationships with students, colleagues and parents will have the same positive impact on you!

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“Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” – Henry Winkler

“A healthy relationship is built on unwavering trust.” – Beau Mirchoff

Books worth Reading

 

Proud of my friend Allyson Apsey for publishing her first book!! 

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  • Monday, April 16: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, PTA Board Meeting 2:30 PM
  • Tuesday, April 17: Achievement Team for A.C. (Adams) 8:15 AM, Achievement Team for C.P. (Medellin) 10:00 AM, Parent Meeting for N.A. (Williams) 2:35 PM
  • Wednesday, April 18: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, April 19: Collaborative Learning Time 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, April 20: Spring Picture Day
  • Saturday, April 21: PTA Garden Beautification Day (Sign Up Genius)

BIG DATES

  • Wednesday, April 25: Administrative Professionals Day!!
  • Thursday, April 26: Art Fair (K-4), Music Concert (1st&2nd), Science Fair Displays (for participating Students) 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Monday, April 30: M-STEP Window Opens, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM

 

  • Friday, May 11: PTA Spring Fling 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Friday, May 18: F&P Data due in Illuminate (K-4)
  • Monday, May 21: iReady Window 3 Opens
  • Wednesday, May 30: Kindergarten Round Up

 

  • Friday, June 1: Garden / Time Capsule Dedication 2:00 PM (tentative time)
  • Sunday, June 3: Family Detroit Tigers Game at 1:00 PM (Sign Up Genius)
  • Friday, June 8: Field Day
  • Tuesday, June 12: Kindergarten Celebration / Music Concert 1:30 PM
  • Wednesday, June 13: 4th Grade Party
  • Thursday, June 14: All-School Assembly 10:00-11:00 AM
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out 11:30 AM

 

Be The Change

Growing up, one of my heroes was Gandhi. I remember watching the movie of his life in my 9th grade history class and being inspired by his “March to the Sea” where he and his followers marched to protest the British colonial rule of India and their monopoly on salt. It was reminiscent of the Boston Tea Party 150 years earlier. I continued to realize that the people and movements that I admired from history had one thing in common…they acted! Many times this action took the form of marching. From Gandhi’s march to liberate India, to the marches for women’s suffrage, to Dr. King’s march for civil rights, to the current day Women’s March and the student led March for our Lives, the power of people coming together peacefully and uniting for a cause has great power.

Last month, my oldest daughter came to me to let me know what she wanted for her sixteenth birthday. My first thought was that she was all set as she was getting my old car for her birthday, but I thought I would hear her out. What she said surprised me. She said that she wanted to go to Washington D.C. to join the other students for the March for our Lives event, which happened to fall on her birthday. She didn’t want to be a passive supporter, she wanted to take action! I was filled with pride of my daughter and her willingness to act on her beliefs. I told her I would be happy to take her to Washington D.C. for her birthday and march with her. By the time we got tickets for our bus ride to D.C., my youngest daughter had expressed her desire to march as well. My wife, who participated in the Women’s March a year before, also wanted to participate. Soon, our whole family was packed up and ready to march together!

We got on a crowded bus at 11:00 PM and rode through the night. We arrived at Union Station at 10:00 AM on Saturday, March 24. After a hasty breakfast, we joined the other 850,000 people who came to march. The rally was crowded, but friendly. The speakers included students from Parkland, Florida and from across the nation. There was even a surprise appearance from Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We met people from all over the country, from every age and every background, united to take action for positive change. My daughter probably had more birthday wishes than she had ever received in her life. After the rally, we marched to the Capitol Building and then ate a quick dinner before getting on the bus for an overnight ride back to Michigan.  Sunday was spent napping and having birthday cake and getting ready for work on Monday. The experience was like a whirlwind and I am still processing it.

As I reflect on the experience, there are some things that stand out to me. First, there is real power when people come together for a united cause. Marching isn’t just symbolic, it’s real action that people take to show solidarity and often is a catalyst for political and societal change. The next thing that stood out to me was that standing up for what you believe in comes with a price. For every glorious march in the history books, there were people who ridiculed, opposed, and even tried to stop the momentum for change. Taking a stand for your beliefs can make you a target for anger and backlash, especially in the age of social media where it is far too easy to strike out in anger and scroll past people who may have opposing views, rather than listening to understand. Finally, I realized how proud I am of my daughters for having the courage of their convictions and taking action for what they believe in. My goal of this post is not to promote a political agenda or sway the reader to my point of view. It’s to show the power we all have when we take action on our beliefs and come together in a positive way.

As a parent and educator, I know the challenges of raising and teaching a strong-willed child. Their stubborn independence and even defiance can be frustrating. However, it’s these strong-willed children that will make this world a better place by following the advice of my hero Gandhi, as they take action and “be the change” they want to see in the world!

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“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Organize, agitate, educate, must be our war cry.”– Susan B. Anthony

“The time is always right to do what is right.”– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Gandhi’s March to the Sea (4 minutes) 

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  • Monday, April 9: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Reflection) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, April 10: Achievement Team for G.W. (Hurula) 8:15 AM, Achievement Team meeting with Laura Flis for N.S. 9:30 AM
  • Thursday, April 12: Staff Meeting8:05 AM
  • Monday, April 16: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, April 17: Achievement Team for A.C. (Adams) 8:15 AM, Achievement Team for C.P. (Medellin) 10:00 AM, Parent Meeting for N.A. (Williams) 2:35 PM
  • Thursday, April 19: Collaborative Learning Time7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, April 20: Spring Pictures for Lifetouch
  • Saturday, April 21: PTA Garden Beautification 9:00-2:00
  • Monday, April 23: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, April 24: MET/IEP for N.S. (Benson) 8:15 AM, REED for C.R. (Benson) 3:25 PM, Youth Making a Difference Ceremony at Franklin HS 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday, April 25: Administrative Professionals’ Day!! 
  • Thursday, April 26: Art Fair (K-4), Music Concert (Grades 1&2), Science Fair(for participating students) 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Monday, April 30: Student of the Month Assembly9:05 AM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM,  M-Step Testing Window Opens

Old School

Last summer, I was visiting my hometown of Ludington and while I was there, I came across a store that was selling vintage Atari 2600 systems and game cartridges. The memory of playing Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong as a child came rushing back to me. After a quick impulse buy, I took the system home and set up it up to play. My teenage daughters laughed at the simple graphics and the funny sounds and music. The joysticks were sluggish and simple compared to what they were used to with modern video games. In every way possible, this game system was inferior to what they had grown up with. Yet, they were soon playing the games and having a great time. It wasn’t the graphics or the program designs, it was the joy of competing, sharing, and learning how to play the games together that made it so fun. They were experiencing the same enjoyment I had felt 30 years earlier.

As an educator, I’m a believer in using the best technology we have available to us for creating innovative and engaging lessons for our students. However, it’s not the technology that makes the lesson meaningful, it’s the interaction with the teacher, the collaboration with peers, and the chance to be in charge of their learning that makes the difference. Technology can enhance a lesson and provide new tools for students to use, but the real magic happens from the planning and execution by the teacher.

When it comes to video games, I’m all about the Old School Atari games. When it comes to education, I’m all about innovation and technology mixed with Old School techniques of making connections with students, making learning fun and exciting, and making real-world applications. The best educators will always be those that teach students and not just the curriculum. Like my vintage video games, it’s not about the special effects, it’s about the excitement and the memories. Be sure to create that excitement and make those memories with your students!

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Old School Latin Phrases

“Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus” – Never tickle a sleeping dragon

“Non est ad astra mollis e terris via” – There is no easy way from the earth to the stars

“Aut viam inveniam aut faciam tibi” – I will either find a way or make one

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  • Monday, March 26: Student of the Month Assembly (Mindfulness) 9:05 AM, Buchanan Garden Walk-Through with Bill Craig & PTA 2:00-3:00 PM
  • Tuesday, March 27: Achievement Team (Benson) 8:30 AM, “Wild About Reading” Assembly 1:30-2:30 PM
  • Wednesday, March 28: Reading in the Wild (Science Room), Football Readers in Classrooms 3:00-3:45 PM, Jon & Kristen to Riley for School Improvement Meeting
  • Thursday, March 29: Staff Meeting 8:05 (Grade Level Team Meetings, 3rd&4th Grades with Jon for M-Step Meeting), Reading in the Wild (Science Room), LUNCH provided for ALL staff in lounge (vegetarian options too) (Thank you Todd Davis:)
  • Friday, March 30: No School – Spring Break Begins!!

Big Dates

  • Saturday, April 21: Garden Beautification Day with PTA and Volunteers
  • Thursday, April 26: Art Fair (Grades K-4), Music Concert (Grades 1&2), Science Fair Displays for participating students. Kona Ice Truck out front 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Monday, April 30: PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, May 11: PTA Spring Fling 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Saturday, May 19: Garden Work/Time Capsule (Targeted Date)
  • Sunday, June 3: PTA Tiger’s Baseball Game
  • Friday, June 8: Field Day
  • Tuesday, June 12: Kindergarten Music Concert in afternoon
  • Wednesday, June 13: 4th Grade Celebration
  • Thursday, June 14: All-School Assembly 10:00-11:00 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out 11:30 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10
  • Monday, June 18: Teacher Work Day (Optional Report Day)

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

Nearly five years ago, I attended a professional development on educational blogging hosted by Michigan principal, Ben Gilpin. That session introduced me to a new world. A world where I reflected on my practices, shared my beliefs, and connected with other educators through a weekly blog. To be honest, I did what most educators do after a PD session…nothing. Luckily for me, I attended the session with a colleague who became my accountability partner. He called me a month later and asked how my blog was going. When I said that I had not started it yet, he invited me over to his school and the two of us sat down in the computer lab and stayed until we each had a blog.

The blog started as a way to give a more dynamic update for my staff. I would still include the upcoming dates, but would include articles, videos, quotes, and most importantly a weekly story that shared an experience I have had, something new I had learned, a mistake I had made, or a belief that I had. For the first several weeks, I’m not sure that anyone read my posts beyond the calendar section. Then one day, a teacher told me that she laughed out loud when she read of my experience as a first grade teacher, because she had a similar experience. Later, another teacher told me that she really appreciated that I shared my mistakes as well as my victories because it helped her get to know me better. My goal of becoming better connected with my staff was starting to happen.

A year later, I went to another PD session on Twitter. My Twitter account led to a new platform for the blog and a much wider audience. I soon found that educators were facing the same issues across the country and even around the world. I was reading and learning from blogs and others were reading mine as well. Then one day, I received an email from Alabama principal, Jennifer Hogan. She and Ohio principal, Craig Vroom had started a group of educational bloggers from across the country called the #CompelledTribe and they wanted to expand the group. They asked me to become a group leader and the three of us would go on to bring new people into the group expanding to over 60 educators from coast to coast. Each month, we write on a common topic and also read, comment, and share one another’s posts. We also connect with one another through Voxer, email, and sometimes in person.

It’s difficult to put into words how much I have grown through the Compelled Tribe. I’ve gained new perspectives from posts, I’ve been exposed to new ideas through conversations, and I’ve been inspired by the sheer energy from the group. These are the movers and shakers of education. Our group includes authors, podcast producers, designers of mentoring programs, and just excellent educators! We are even in discussions about hosting our first national blogging conference. They say your vibe attracts your tribe and in this case, the tribe also continues to generate a vibe of positive energy back to all the members. Education can be challenging and we need systems that will encourage us and help support us . I’m thankful to the Compelled Tribe for helping me to grow and pushing me to be the best educator I can be!  Who is in your tribe?

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Interested in learning more about the Compelled Tribe? Check out the “Compelled Tribe” page on my website to see the members and visit the links to their blogs! 

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“It’s important to find your tribe.” – RuPaul

“Ultimately, we actually all belong to only one tribe.” – Jill Tarter

“I want to be the flame the tribe dances around.” – Joe Perry

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  • Monday, March 19: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM (Led by students)
  • Tuesday, March 20: Achievement Team (Benson) 8:15 AM, Parent Meeting with Achievement Team (Taylor) 2:35 PM
  • Wednesday, March 21: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM, Jon to PTSA @ Frost 6:00 PM
  • Thursday, March 22: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM (led by Shayna & Heather), Battle of the Books in Gym (lunch in classrooms), PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 23: Safari Adventure, Jon to ABC Negotiations 1:30 PM

 

  • Monday, March 26: Student of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM (Mindfulness), B.O.G. walk through with Mr. Craig, Jen Medellin, and PTA 2:00-3:30 PM
  • Tuesday, March 27: IEP for KP (Kurtjian) 8:15 AM, Wild About Reading All-School Assembly 1:30-2:30 PM
  • Wednesday, March 28: Reading in the Wild (Science Room)
  • Thursday, March 29: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Reading in the Wild (Science Room)
  • Friday, March 30: No School! Spring Break Begins!!

BIG DATES

  • Saturday, April 21: PTA Garden Beautification Project
  • Thursday, April 26: Art Showcase (Grades K-4) & Music Performance (Grades 1&2) 6:00-7:30 PM, Science Fair Projects on Display
  • Friday, May 11: PTA Spring Fling 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Friday, May 25: Students & Staff dismissed at 12:10 PM
  • Wednesday, May 30: Kindergarten Round Up
  • Friday, June 8: Field Day 
  • Tuesday, June 12: Kindergarten Celebration/Music Concert 1:30 PM
  • Thursday, June 14: All School Assembly 10:00-11:00 AM, Students Dismissed at 12:10 PM
  • Friday, June 15: 4th Grade Clap Out  11:30 AM, Students Dismissed at 12:10 PM
  • Monday, June 18: Teacher Work Day (Optional Report)

Balance

When we talk about balance, we may picture a scale with weights on either side that are evenly distributed to demonstrate the need to give equal attention to two areas. These areas may be work/life, personal/professional, physical/emotional, self/others, etc. The problem with this image is that it usually focuses on two areas. In reality, we balance dozens of responsibilities on any given day. As educators, we wear many hats. We are parents, children, teachers, learners, leaders, followers, dreamers and realists. The balancing act gets more complex the more people that depend on us. Unfortunately, the area that usually gets neglected is ourselves, because educators are trained to take care of others first!

Disclaimer: I’m about to give advice on something that I’m not very good at! If balance was easy to find, then we wouldn’t have so many books, speakers, and seminars on how to find it. The one thing I do know is that in order to achieve it, we must be intentional in creating it. Balance doesn’t just happen, it is carefully crafted. I meet with teachers all the time and often give the same advice to people, “Are you holding yourself to the same standards that you hold others to or are you expecting more of yourself?” Many times, teachers are beating themselves up about not getting every child to succeed, or not being the perfect parent or spouse, or simply not being perfect. When they answer the question that they would not expect the same of someone else, it sometimes helps them realize they are holding themselves to unrealistic expectations.

Finding balance isn’t a one time event that we can check off our to do list. It’s something that we need to continually work at and be conscious of. Most importantly, we need to remember to forgive ourselves, take care of ourselves, and treat ourselves as we treat others. So, in the words of my father, “Do as I say, not as I do“, because I’m still working on this balance thing myself!

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 “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.” – Thomas Merton

“There is no decision that we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice.” – Simon Sinek

THE POWER OF MOMENTS (4 min)

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  • Saturday, March 10: Pancake Breakfast & Book Fair Kick Off 9:00-12:00
  • Monday, March 12: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, Book Fair in the East Commons all week
  • Tuesday, March 13: Achievement Team (Haapala) 8:15 AM, All Administrators Meeting 3:00-4:30 PM, Grades due in by midnight
  • Wednesday, March 14: M-Step Training for Principals 1:30-4:00 PM
  • Thursday, March 15: Collaborative Learning Time 7:50-8:50 AM, Movie in the Gym (for qualifying readers) 1:30-3:30 PM
  • Friday, March 16: Read with a Stuffed Animal Day, Report Card/Reading Proficiency Reports/IRIPS go home with students

 

  • Monday, March 19: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, March 20: Achievement Team (Benson) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, March 21: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM, PTSA @Frost 6:00 PM
  • Thursday, March 22: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Battle of the Books (lunch in rooms), PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 23: Safari Reading Adventure, Jon to ABC Negotiations 1:30-4:00 PM

 

  • Monday, March 26: Student of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, March 27: IEP for KP (Kurtjian) 8:15 AM, Wild About Reading Assembly 1:30-2:30 PM
  • Wednesday, March 28: Reading in the Wild
  • Thursday, March 29: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Reading in the Wild
  • Friday, March 30: No School – Spring Break Begins!